More Than a Building

Our Lady of the Nativity Church in Louisiana, where I usually go to church.

I thought I’d blog about how the Covid19 virus, aka the Corona virus, has affected my life so far and address the people who are criticizing the bishops for cancelling Mass (hopefully, it will come back for Palm Sunday, but I doubt it).

The week before the Quarantine was enacted, our priest told us the Mass would only serve the Host, and only the priest would be allowed to drink the Precious Blood (since everyone drinks from the same chalice. He also told us not to shake hands during the Sign of Peace and/or hold hands during the Our Father. We were not permitted to receive the Host on the tongue, but it was insisted that we receive it in the hand. (Our priest reminded us that Vatican II permits this practice.) I usually take the Host by hand anyway, so that wasn’t different.

Now with the quarantine, churches are closed. Many priests and Bishops (including my favorite, Bishop Robert Barron) are now live-streaming Mass on YouTube or Facebook instead of at the actual church. My local library branch was doing curbside pickup, but they suspended that now, at least until April 4. (As far as I know. That may change. Probably not. I hope) You have to call ahead, and then they come out and give you the books or whatever you requested. People are panicking and selfishly hoarding toilet paper and other items.

Many people are criticizing the actions of the bishops, but I believe these arguments are wrong. I’ll go through each one.

1. “We should still receive the Host on the tongue.” As I stated, Vatican II says that is permitted . Do you want the person who is giving you the Eucharist to get sick by touching your tongue?

2. “The churches shouldn’t be closed. We need to show that we are braver than the virus.” There is bravery, and there is public safety. You might not even know you have the virus and then you might unknowingly pass it on to those who cannot protect themselves. Loving our neighbors included being mindful of their health as well as our own. And by the way, during outbreaks of the Bubonic Plague, churches were closed.

3. “The Host and Precious Blood will protect us because Jesus is present. We need to be fed.” Although Christ is indeed present in both, the properties (or “accidents”, to use a more canonical term) of both are still present. If you are celiac, you cannot eat bread, including the Host. In fact, some churches actually do serve gluten-free or low-gluten Hosts. If you drink enough of the Precious Blood, you will still get drunk. If someone poisons either one, the poison is not removed. It will still kill you. This argument reduces the Bread and Wine to magical items.

We are more fortunate than we realize. During the Middle Ages, Christianity wasn’t as widespread as it is today. People couldn’t go as often as we do. Today, we can make a spiritual communion by watching Mass. We don’t even have to be in church!

Our Catholic faith is more than the concrete and bricks in the churches. Jesus is present in the Host and the wine, but He is also present in our hearts. We should be taking this opportunity to unite ourselves in prayer. That can also show our solidarity as the family of God.

We are in the season of Lent. During this time, Jesus is calling us out to the desert. Let us meet him there. We can still connect with him spiritually. Our technology is much more advanced than it was in the days of plagues, and we might have a cure sooner than we think. Let’s all be obedient disciples and obey the wishes of our bishops and priests. They know what is best for us. God will get us through this.

New Flash to Catholics: Netflix Doesn’t Care About You

firsttemptation
Image description: Netflix’s screen for “The First Temptation of Christ”, a Netflix spoof featuring a gay Jesus that debuted during the Christmas season in 2019

Last year, Netflix got under a lot of fire with Catholics. Sometime after Georgia passed a new law outlawing abortion after the first trimester,  Netflix announced they would no longer film in Georgia unless the law was changed. Many actors, such as Alyssa Milano, also protested on social media. As a result of this, Catholics I know on social media announced that they would “hit Netflix where it hurt”, meaning they would cancel their accounts. I was not one of them, and some Catholics I knew in groups on social media actually told me I was a “bad Catholic”. The fervor died down, as it always does. Then it got fired up again, because apparently Netflix wasn’t done ticking off their Catholic patrons. They released The First Temptation of Christ, a Netflix feature with a gay Jesus bringing his gay lover to see his parents. A bishop in Texas decried it, even though he admitted he doesn’t have the time to watch Netflix anyway. The bishop was quoted in the article linked, saying that “blasphemers don’t deserve one penny.” Again, many Catholics announced that they too would be cancelling their accounts.

Continue reading “New Flash to Catholics: Netflix Doesn’t Care About You”

One Faith, Many Paths: Sister Elizabeth Ann Dockery

sisterelizabeth

I’ve always wanted to interview a religious sister, and now I have my chance. Here’s my interview with Sister Elizabeth Ann Dockery.

1. What was your childhood like? I came from a broken home and lived in poverty. There were constant trials and tragedies, yet I was surrounded by love, especially my holy grandparents who raised me and encouraged me by example to have faith and trust in God. I began working at a young age so I could have nicer clothes, take music lessons, etc. I excelled in everything I did thanks to the gifts of perseverance, grace, and old-fashioned hard work, resulting in full scholarships for both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. What seemed to be all odds against me ended up being a huge blessing with all of the life tools I ended up with.

2. Are you a convert to Catholicism or were you a cradle Catholic? Convert from the Church of the Nazarene.

3. What is your favorite biblical passage and why? 2 Cor 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” This is my favorite passage because the Lord has proven to me time and time again that His grace truly is sufficient and that my weaknesses are actually strengths in him.

4. Who is your favorite biblical figure besides Jesus? Elijah.

5. How did you discern that you had a calling to be a Sister? I met a Sister in a post office one day. I had never seen one before and was intrigued as a fairly new Catholic. She spoke with me and invited me to their convent. After two weeks of declining invitations I finally went. Upon arrival, I felt a peace which surpassed my understanding and like I was “home”. From that time forth I went there as often as I could as a volunteer. One day my boyfriend of 5 years said to me, “Do you realize you spend more time with the Sisters now than you do me?” It was then I realized I might have a vocation.  I broke up with him, got a spiritual director, went on several “come and see” retreats and entered religious life after the Lord confirmed my calling with several signs.

6. Which order does your convent belong to and what makes it unique? We are Fransciscan. We are unique in that we live by faith–praying for provision, living in poverty without the securities of health insurance, regular income, etc. Prayer, praise, and evangelization are at the heart of our charism and ministry.  While home, we are quite contemplative, living on an 840-acre ranch called “Prayer Town”. For ministry, we go all over the world doing short-term missions such as retreats, speaking at conferences, parish missions, youth events, and so forth. Then we return to contemplative life. It is a constant cycle of being filled then giving, just as St. Francis did. Praise is a way of life for us. We are charismatic.

7. What is the difference between a sister and a nun? A nun is fully cloistered and does not go from the convent, except with permission from a bishop. Sisters are those who are non-cloistered, which are most of us. Basically, if they are in public they are Sisters.

8. What are your duties as a nun? What service do you provide to your community outside of your convent? I am the Mission Advancement Director both inside and outside our convent. I am also head of our music department, overseeing and taking care of the instruments, books, training, and so forth. In addition, in the convent, I help keep the mission house I live in cleaned and maintained in my chore areas, help with cooking, yard work, and anything else regular people have to do when they own a house.

Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths: Sister Elizabeth Ann Dockery”

Debunking Lies: Are Christians Copycats Part 2: Dionysus

dionysus

Last time, I broke down why Jesus is not a copy of Horus. But the atheists don’t stop with him. They’ve also proposed Dionysus. So for part 2, let’s continue debunking the meme.

Dionysus was a lesser god in Greek mythology, not even one of the major ones like Zeus. The whole thing started because someone wrote a book called The Jesus Mysteries, featuring an amulet that had an image of Dionysus on a cross. So does this mean we copied crucifixion from the Greeks?

Continue reading “Debunking Lies: Are Christians Copycats Part 2: Dionysus”

Debunking Lies: The Sex Abuse Scandal

Many times in autism groups on FB when I or someone else break the unwritten rule that the atheists there have specified–never mention Christianity in any way–the atheists there will use different tactics. There are some that I can just shrug off, but one tactic that is so misinformed really bothers me: the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic church. So I’ve decided to talk about it. Originally, I wasn’t because I wasn’t quite sure how to address the issue. But I’ve recently learned some methods that I can use.

First of all, the media misrepresents the issue. The number of priests who are pedophiles is actually not as big as the media would like you to believe. The secular media has been against the Catholic Church for a very long time. I think it stems from the fact that the Catholic Church has always opposed many things that the secular media promotes, such as abortion. The media see Catholicism as an enemy, so they look for anything that happens within the church to use against us, whether it’s taking the pope out of context or the scandals. That’s not to say the scandals don’t exist at all; that just means it’s overblown. Also, there are steps being taken. Why isn’t that reported? Because why talk about a positive, when the negative is far more interesting and appears to be more damning.

Continue reading “Debunking Lies: The Sex Abuse Scandal”

Farewell Jack Chick

jackchickrip

A few weeks ago, a rather reclusive man who was sort of a celebrity among evangelicals, especially anti-Catholic ones, died–Jack Chick. What? you never heard of him? Count yourself lucky.

Jack Chick was a comic strip artist who used his comics as a means to evangelize, or so he’d have you believe. In reality, he was spreading some of the most insane lies you ever heard. He though rock n roll–including Christian rock–was evil. He thought people who played Dungeons and Dragons were conducting séances and if their characters died in the game, the other players killed them.  I don’t know what he thought of Pokémon or Harry Potter, but I’m sure he made tracts about them too. These comics were distributed at Churches and Christian book stores for years. You can even purchase them on his website. (And no, I’m not going to provide a link.)

Continue reading “Farewell Jack Chick”

My Favorite Saints: Pope John Paul II

pope-htm

“Every individual is made in the image of God, insofar as he or she is a rational and free creature capable of knowing God and loving him.”–Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem

This year marks the canonization of Pope John Paul II. He was born in Wadowice, Poland on May 18, 1920, and died in 2007. His birth name was Karol Jozef Wojtyla. He was my pope for most of my life. Like many of my generation, I remember his charisma and his presence in the media.

Karol was the youngest of three children. His mother died in 1929, when he turned 8.  His eldest sister, Olga, died before he was even born. He was closest to his older brother Edmund, despite their thirteen years difference.  Edmund died of scarlet fever, a loss that wounded Karol.

One of Karol’s passions, even in his youth, was soccer.  While in high school, he played as goalkeeper and fell in love with a Jewish girl named Ginka.

In 1938, his father moved to Krakow, where Karol enrolled at the Jagcellonin University. Although he took military training as part of his instruction, he never fired a weapon.  While at the university, he learned twelve languages, nine of which he used as pope.

In 1939, the Nazis closed down the university during their invasion of Poland.  He began to work in order to avoid deportation to Germany.  He received an injury while working in construction that fractured his skull; while another injury left him in a permanent stoop. He lost his father to a heart attack a year later. Then in 1942, he began his pursuit of the priesthood, becoming a priest in 1946. He slowly moved up in rank. In 1978, He presided as cardinal at Vatican II.  He was ordained pope in 1978. He was the most travelled pontiff so far, and served the second-longest tenure in the role.

Continue reading “My Favorite Saints: Pope John Paul II”

Film Freak: Risen

Image: The Risen movie poster, with actor Joseph Fiennes as Clavius
Image: The Risen movie poster, with actor Joseph Fiennes as Clavius

“You are looking for something you will never find”–Mary Magdalene to Clavius

There has been a huge market in Christian movies like God’s Not Dead, Fireproof, and War Room. Even the Narnia movies could count. One I’ve seen recently that I like is the just-released-to-DVD Risen.

Risen tells about what happened after Jesus was crucified. What’s interesting is that the movie isn’t done from the viewpoint of a follower of Jesus, like the Apostles or even Mary Magdalene. Instead, the protagonist is Clavius, a soldier who was present at the Crucifixion (he’s not actually in the gospels. There is a soldier mentioned in the accounts, but it’s the one who pierced Jesus’s side. It’s not said in the movie whether this is the same soldier or a different one.) The Sanhedrin are concerned that Jesus might indeed fulfill his prophecy that he would rise from the dead. Considering all the miracles he performed during his ministry, they have reason to be concerned. While the Jews did want to be free of Roman rule, they knew the danger of uprising. This is why the crucifixion happened, in my theory. Jesus was not what they thought the Messiah would be. He was too kind, not a person who would rise up an army and use His godly powers to make the Romans quiver in their armor. They knew the Romans outmanned them and had better weaponry. They wouldn’t stand a chance. Pilate was also concerned because he wanted to keep his position of power. After all, when Jesus was just a baby, Herod had ordered all Jews below the age of two to be killed to stop Jesus before he could even begin an insurrection. That failed, obviously, because now he had condemned the same man, one he deemed innocent and had only done so to placate the crowd.

I like how the movie sets up Clavius as a protagonist. He’s not presented as a villain. Like the rest of his people, he pays tribute to the Roman pantheon–Mars in particular (Kudos to the writers for knowing that some Romans didn’t worship the entire pantheon and had favorite gods that they looked to) He regards the Jewish god with indifference, and thinks little about this “Yeshua” trouble-maker (Note: Jesus’s name was actually “Yeshua” in the original text, not Jesus) However, Pilate is his commanding officer, so it would be best to see to it that Jesus does not rise from the grave. I love what Mary Magdalene tells him when he interrogates her. “You are looking for something you will not find.”

Continue reading “Film Freak: Risen”

Debunking Myths: Do Catholics Worship Statues?

Michelangelo-Pieta

I am currently an administrator in a Facebook Group for Autistic Christians. I decided that as an administrator, I would do what I could to make sure that this was one Christian group that did not exclude Catholics. I made a rule that anyone who had anti-Catholic sentiments would be removed.  One day, a new member saw a post I typed up about the Virgin Mary and accused Catholics of being idolaters.  This is part of a myth that Catholics worship statues. On the surface, it may seem that way when you enter a Catholic church and see people kneeling in front of statues, especially if the statues are of saints rather than Jesus.  It’s particularly glaring when the First Commandment forbids worshipping false idols. Wouldn’t these statues be an example of the idolatry forbidden by this commandment?

Not necessarily.  In the Old Testament, David was instructed to construct the Ark of the Covenant. God told him to place statues of cherubim on it. (Exodus 25:22) So why is that allowed? Wouldn’t that be revering the cherubim?

the ark of the covenant, with kneeling cherubim on top.
the ark of the covenant, with kneeling cherubim on top.

Continue reading “Debunking Myths: Do Catholics Worship Statues?”

Debunking Lies–Catholicism: Is The Pope Biblical

thPQSUG2AW

When Pope Francis came to America for the first time, I followed the media’s reports.  While I disliked how the media covered the Pope’s visit because they twisted his words to suit their agendas, what saddened me most was how Protestants reacted. I left several Christian groups on FB because there were several anti-Catholic comments.  His arrival seemed to embolden the anti-Catholics in the group, and it wasn’t just the members, it was the admins–the people in charge of the groups! To these people, the Catholic Church was a cult, akin to Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witnesses. What’s most distressing is that in reality, the Catholic Church is the oldest denomination (in fact, it’s the FIRST). The Christian Church is like a giant tree. At the root of the tree is Jesus. The trunk of the tree is the Catholic Church, where all the teachings of the Fathers of the Church reside.  The branches of the tree are the Protestant denominations. If the Protestant churches attempt to sever themselves from Catholicism, they will wither like branches cut from a tree. All Protestant churches owe their teachings to the Catholic Church, whether they realize it or not.  Some Protestant churches have already started to drift away from Catholicism’s teachings. Believing that the Catholic Church is separate from Christianity is a path to disaster. When I started my Debunking Lies series, I was content to focus only on the lies atheists spread about Christianity. I did not wish to cover the lies spread within my own religion by those who refuse to learn the truth. And yet, here we are. I have decided to extend this series and instead of covering just atheist lies, I’m covering anti-Catholic lies as well. I’m starting with lies concerning the Biblical roots of the papacy.

Continue reading “Debunking Lies–Catholicism: Is The Pope Biblical”